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  • Felicity Cowie

What is the financial cost of media relations?

Updated: Feb 18

Many organisations invest £10000s in the wrong skills for the wrong processes to get wrong media coverage.


Why?


A trap many businesses fall into is that they don’t know WHY they want to get media coverage until a competitor gets it and everybody asks, ‘why wasn’t that us?’


Then, in a scramble to catch up, strategic thinking exits and reckless faith is placed in an instantly available and low-cost freelancer or PR agency. From that shaky foundation everything else is built. At worst, media relationships and opportunities are immediately wrecked. I was approached by a client under pressure to get media coverage after his business went silent for 13 YEARS following a profoundly unwise first interview on a national news programme.


You have to ask, would any business take this approach to setting up/outsourcing its Finance, Legal or HR functions?


Even organisations which take a decision to invest in ‘communications’, and ringfence significant budget, fail to recruit the right media relations support.


Why?


I have often witnessed business leaders rush to please a board by getting ‘communications’ support in place. Then spend huge and delegate an INSANE amount of authority and autonomy, to the hire or agency, with no tangible objectives, timelines and metrics.


Media relations is a specialist area of ‘communications’. Many ‘communications’ professionals, even at a senior level, have no or limited experience of working inside a newsroom, and therefore what they advise, is often incongruent with how journalists work.


As a tip, if you are in this situation, I recommend telling your board that your first and immediate action/win will be to boost your Annual Report into a blueprint which will help you recruit/outsource the best media relations support.


The Annual Report, which limited companies are legally obliged to submit anyway, can serve as a much-overlooked marketing and media relations resource if you include a focus on existing strengths, key objectives, risks and opportunities. The best Annual Reports include case studies and journalists LOVE case studies.


After 11 years working on media relations, following 15 years as a journalist pitched at more than 100,000 times, I strongly urge businesses to:


1. get clear on the investment of time and money into long term, rather than kneejerk, media relations


2. work out what media coverage is going to deliver which cannot be got any other way. Read my post 3 Ways Media Relations Can Benefit a Business


3. assess 1 and 2 together and gain clear understanding about how to get what you need BEFORE you recruit/outsource, just as you would when setting up Finance, Legal or HR for your company


If you’re lucky enough to be at the start of ALL the possibilities for good relationships, coverage and the benefits you can gain from media relation, then make the most of this chance!




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